• Tony Birkhead

Breaking the Rules... Week - 1

Rules do not measure Righteousness, Relationship does!


What are the standard things that keep Christians from standing up for Christ? What is most likely to keep you from standing up for Christ?

Why is approval from other people such a large obstacle to standing up for Christ?

Sadly, many Christians are afraid to stand up for the gospel of Jesus Christ. In today’s passage, Paul urges the churches of Galatia to not be swayed by false teaching or the approval of man, but to stand firm on the gospel alone.


Galatians 1:1-9

Paul, an apostle—sent not from men nor by a man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead— 2 and all the brothers and sisters with me, To the churches in Galatia: 3 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, 4 who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5 to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse! 9 As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse!

Galatians 2:20-21

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”

Galatians 3:10-14

For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, as it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.” 11 Clearly no one who relies on the law is justified before God, because “the righteous will live by faith.” 12 The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, it says, “The person who does these things will live by them.” 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole.” 14 He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.

Galatians 3:10-14

For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, as it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.” 11 Clearly no one who relies on the law is justified before God, because “the righteous will live by faith.” 12 The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, it says, “The person who does these things will live by them.” 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole.” 14 He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.

Galatians 3:23-25

Before the coming of this faith, we were held in custody under the law, locked up until the faith that was to come would be revealed. 24 So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith. 25 Now that this faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian.

Galatians 3:26-29

So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

Galatians 4:4-7

But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. 6 Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.

Galatians 5:6

For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.

Galatians 5:13-14

You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Galatians 6:14-15

May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. 15 Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is the new creation.



From where did Paul get his authority? From were did Jesus get His authority?

As an apostle, Paul claimed the authority to declare and to defend the true gospel. No human being had asked Paul to be an apostle or assigned this task to him. His appointment and commission had come not from any individual but from Jesus Christ and God the Father. These words provide a firm foundation for Paul’s message to the Galatians.

Paul’s statement in verse 1 not only affirms his apostolic authority but also the uniqueness of Christ. In addition to being fully human, Christ is fully divine (as evidenced by His unique relationship with God the Father and by the fact that He was raised from the dead). Thus, He is able to redeem us from the curse of the law and from the power of sin and to reconcile us with the living God. Christ’s uniqueness as both fully human and fully divine is an essential component of the gospel. This truth, however, often becomes the target of ridicule and scorn by unbelievers.

On what things, other than God’s grace, do we try to base our salvation?

If we know salvation is based on grace alone, why do we still try to supplement with works?

Paul stated the truth that salvation is based on God’s grace and on what God has done in Jesus Christ. Paul’s message to the Galatians clearly applies to us as well. Our salvation is based on what God has done in Jesus Christ, not on our own merits or on anything we can do.


Verse 6 talks about the Galatians deserting the gospel. How have we done the same thing?

Why do people accept beliefs that are perversions of the gospel?

Any proclamation of salvation that adds to or denies the gospel of grace through Christ is to be rejected because it is not genuine. False teachers were trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. They were taking the genuine gospel and twisting it into something completely different. Instead of accepting that salvation is received solely by grace through faith in Christ, these people wanted to add requirements of the law such as circumcision.


  • As you reflect on your life, how have you changed as a result of knowing Christ?

  • How have you witnessed the life change of other Christians around you as a result of their embracing the gospel?

  • What is one thing you learned today?


As you close, ask God to continually remind everyone of our personal, intimate relationship with Jesus and all the implications of His living in and working through us. Pray that we would live lives marked by the gospel every single day. Confess that we so easily turn to false gospels and care too deeply about what other may think. Pray for boldness to stand up for the gospel this week.



1:1. Paul is the author of the Book of Galatians. God called him to be an apostle and sent him on the special mission of evangelizing the Gentiles. The opening of Galatians is unusual for Paul. In most of his letters, he begins with a thanksgiving for the recipients, but in Galatians he omits this customary praise. Why is this omission significant? Because Paul was alarmed that the Galatians had fallen into the lethal trap of legalism. He was astonished that they questioned his authority as an apostle. Therefore, as a surgeon going after the tumor, Paul avoided small talk and cut in immediately to declare his case. Since his message and apostleship were being questioned, Paul began, even in this greeting, to present his divine credentials. No human institution nor any individual sent him. Jesus Christ, the resurrected One, along with God the Father was the only reason he became an apostle to the Gentiles.

1:2. This letter was not only from Paul but also from all the brothers with him. Paul’s companions included Barnabas and others from Antioch (see Acts 13:1). Paul mentions these recognized coworkers to legitimize further his apostleship and authority.

Throughout this chapter Paul cites his association with the apostles and key church leaders as a way to substantiate his credibility and apostleship. Paul and his associates addressed this letter to the various churches in the Roman province of Galatia.

1:3. “Grace” and “peace” summarize Paul’s gospel of salvation. Grace, God’s unmerited favor, is the source of salvation (Eph. 2:8–9). When a person believes in Jesus Christ, he or she receives salvation and peace with God, others, and self. Thus, grace leads to peace. Peace represents life in its wholeness or fullness, a life filled with a sense of satisfaction that only God can give.

1:4. Grace not only saves us from the penalty of sin; it also delivers us from the power of sin. We have been rescued from the enslaving power of this present evil age—a world ruled by Satan, full of cruelty, tragedy, temptation, and deception. Later in chapter 5 Paul will explain how grace works in our lives to give us this power over sin’s slavery. Christ accomplished the victory over sin through the voluntary gift of himself to us in dying on the cross. This was all according to God’s eternal plan to bring us salvation.

1:5. Forever we will praise God for His grace which saves us from both the penalty and power of sin.

1:6. Paul was astonished the Galatians were so quickly turning away (like a military desertion) from the gospel of grace. This meant they were deserting God, turning their backs on him. It was almost beyond Paul’s comprehension that they, having once been delivered from the bondage of law, would go back into this religious prison. Paul calls the Judaizer’s blend of law and grace a different gospel, thus declaring that mixing law with the gospel is a distortion of truth. Even today, this Galatian error is repeated when people say, “This is what you have to do to be saved; join our church, obey our rules, submit to our baptism, practice our liturgy, worship the way we do, work hard, prove your worth, and earn God’s love. In the end, if you are good enough, God will accept you.” A works-based gospel is different from the message of grace.

1:7. In fact, a works-based, human-effort driven gospel is no gospel at all. How is a demand for impossible human achievement good news? Anyone who presents a way of salvation that depends in any way on works, rather than God, has contaminated the gospel message. They confuse honest, sincere believers. They have no gospel, no good news.

1:8. A hypothetical case shows the seriousness of legalism’s perversion of grace. Through hyperbole (a deliberate exaggeration for emphasis), Paul declares that anyone who preaches a mixture of grace and law is worthy of eternal condemnation. A teacher who requires others to obey the law as a requirement for salvation is leading others to a Christless eternity. Paul uses strong language because he is dealing with a life-or-death situation. You must choose: the gospel of grace Paul preached or the gospel of works the perverters preached.

1:9. Ditto! Paul repeated his curse for effect. Any person who preaches a gospel that requires more than God’s grace for salvation deserves to suffer in hell for eternity.



The QT Guide is designed to help you MOVE with God through Bible Reading, reflection and prayer. It can be completed in about 9 minutes.

UPWARD: 1⁄2 Minute Preparing Your Heart:Invest the first 30 seconds preparing your heart. You might pray, “Lord, cleanse my heart so You can speak to me through the Scriptures. Make my mind alert, my soul active, and my heart responsive. Surround me with Your presence during this time.

FORWARD: 4 Minutes Listening To God:Take the next four minutes to read the Bible. Your greatest need is to hear a word from God. Allow the Word to strike fire in your heart. Meet the Author!

INWARD: 2 1/2 Minutes Talking To God (Prayer):After God has spoken through His Book, then speak to Him in prayer.

OUTWARD: 2 Minutes Preparing your Action:Ask yourself this question: How can I take today’s Quiet Time and put it into action throughout my day?


Early in the morning Joshua and all the Israelites set out from Shittim and went to the Jordan, where they camped before crossing over. 2 After three days the officers went throughout the camp, 3 giving orders to the people: “When you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, and the Levitical priests carrying it, you are to move out from your positions and follow it. 4 Then you will know which way to go, since you have never been this way before. But keep a distance of about two thousand cubits between you and the ark; do not go near it.” 5 Joshua told the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you.”

Joshua 3:1-5

The Israelites are getting ready to cross the Jordan to take on Jericho. The momentum is building, and the Israelites are under the impression that God is about to perform something great. But what did Joshua mean by “sanctify?” The definition is to “set apart” or “declare holy.” To live a sanctified life first begins with possessing a legitimate relationship with the Lord.

By just following rules, we are only practicing religion. Whenever Moses went to speak to the Lord, his face would glow. This glow was apparent to all who were around him. While our faces may not physically glow, our lives should. It struck me that Joshua specifically instructed the people to sanctify themselves before this huge manifestation of God in tearing down the walls of Jericho. Do we live sanctified lives only when we want God to perform miraculous works for us?

We may enter an intense period of prayer in order to ask God for his intervention. However, once our prayers have been answered and the situation has resolved, our intensity for God ebbs with time. In essence, there are peaks and valleys in our relationship with God. We have essentially said, “God, I will pray to you about the big situations and I will handle the small situations.” In doing so, we have come to rely upon our own understanding. You see, God tells us that we should live lives that are constantly sanctified, which allows us to continually serve as His vessels.

Adapted From: http://shortdailydevotions.com


“Everything is permissible”- but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible” – but not everything is constructive. Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.”

1 Corinthians 10:23-24

The church in Corinth was struggling with their newfound freedom in Christ, and with that they were asking a question that Christians have been asking for years “What can I get away with and still call myself a Christian?” Instead of giving them a nice little list of Christian rules, the Apostle Paul tells them they are not asking the right question. Instead of asking the infamous “How far is too far?” question, Paul challenges them to ask this question instead: “What can I do to benefit others? How can I intentionally seek to help others, even at the risk of some of my freedoms?” It is a totally different question. It is a question that can change our lives.

Ask yourself this question right now: How am I setting up other people to grow in their relationship with Jesus?

That is the heart of what Paul was saying to the Corinthians and it is still applicable to us. Yes, we have a freedom in Christ. Yes, we have the right to eat, drink and be merry. We even have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. What would it look like if we were willing to sacrifice those freedoms to benefit others?

It is so profound that Paul uses the word “seek”, because it implies being intentional with your actions. When you played Hide and Seek as a kid and you were the “seeker”, you were very, very intentional at seeking (or else you weren’t very good!).

Adapted From: http://shortdailydevotions.com


For Ezra had set his heart to study the Law of the LORD, and to do it and to teach his statutes and rules in Israel.

Ezra 7:10

In this series we’ve considered Ezra 7:10 as a model for studying God’s word, living it out and now, finally, teaching it. The previous three devotions were probably easy to follow and to agree with. Studying Scripture and applying it to your life is a given in most Christian circles. But what about teaching the Bible? You may be thinking that you’ve never been to Bible college and that your calling isn’t to stand in the pulpit and preach. What would this have to do with you? Truthfully, it has a lot to do with every believer!

We seem to have bought into the notion that teaching from a stage or lecturing in a classroom are the only ways we can teach people. I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time remembering what my last instructor taught me in a classroom setting. As the parent of a little boy, however, I do know that I don’t stand in front of him at a whiteboard for a daily lecture; not even close. I spend time with him throughout the day, pointing out colors and numbered objects, teaching him about our world as opportunities arise. When we play sports we don’t spend the entire time memorizing the rules either, we simply play.

As Christians, every one of us is called to teach. This is a vital part of discipleship and is commanded by Jesus in the Great Commission (Matthew 29:19-20). We are called to study, do, and teach what we’ve learned to those we are in relationship with. Just as I teach my son through our relationship, we are called to teach true, vibrant, biblical Christianity the same way. Jesus didn’t show up, give a six hour lecture and then leave the planet. He grew up on Earth and then spent three years in relationship with the disciples as He taught them. It isn’t a complicated thing to do. Spend time with people and share what Jesus is teaching you in life. Pretty simple, isn’t it?

Adapted From: http://shortdailydevotions.com


“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. 45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. 46 When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.

Matthew 13:44-46

Our heavenly Father chooses to involve the prayers of His children in the outworking of His plan (2 Kings 20:1-6). But what about a circumstance like a friend’s serious illness? Perhaps you wonder, Why should I pray about it if God already knows how the situation will turn out?

When you pray, God works in your heart so that you are in harmony with His will. Prayer lets us in on what He is doing. In the event that God calls your friend home, He also prepares you with awareness of His presence—that way, when you walk through the valley, you have peace. And in some situations, your prayer may be the very instrument God plans to use in bringing about a result He desires.

No farmer can control the yield of his crops. He can till the soil and plant the seed in the best way he knows, but it is the Lord who causes growth. Of course, God could produce crops without help, but no farmer reaps a fantastic harvest sitting at home. In a similar way, the heavenly Father chooses to work through us because He is a God of relationship. He wants to involve us in His work, and that includes our prayers.

Adapted From: http://intouch.org


I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Romans 15:13

Show me someone who has lost hope, and I’ll show you someone who isn’t reading the Scriptures. Reading God’s Word bolsters our faith and renews our hope. Romans 10:17 tells us that “faith comes from hearing, that is, hearing the Good News about Christ” (NLT).

And Romans 15:4 says, “Such things were written in the Scriptures long ago to teach us. And the Scriptures give us hope and encouragement as we wait patiently for God’s promises to be fulfilled” (NLT).

We as Christians should be very hopeful—overflowing with hope, in fact. But sometimes we lose our hope. The Gospel of Luke records the story of two downhearted disciples on the Emmaus Road. In their minds, Jesus had failed in His mission. He had been crucified, and He was gone.

They had pinned their hopes to Him, thinking He would overthrow the tyranny of Rome. What a disappointment, they thought. As they were walking along the road from Jerusalem to Emmaus, a stranger joined them. They didn’t know who this guy was, but it turned out to be Jesus.

Jesus effectively said to them, “What’s up? What’s been going on? Why the long faces? You look sad.” So they began telling Jesus about Jesus. And they weren’t doing a very good job, by the way. They said, “We had hoped he was the Messiah who had come to rescue Israel” (Luke 24:21 NLT). Then Jesus gave them a guided tour of all the Old Testament passages that pointed to Him. As He talked with them on the road, they had their hope returned. And when they sat down to eat with Jesus, they realized it was Him. Then He suddenly disappeared.

So how did Jesus restore the hope of these disciples? He restored it through the Scriptures. Of all people, we who are followers of Jesus should be filled with hope.

Adapted From: http://harvest.org


One of the best ways to fight temptation and grow in your daily walk with Jesus is to memorize His Word. Begin to commit His words to your memory this week.

Memorizing may be as simple as repeating the passage aloud 10 times each day or writing it 5 times each day. It may be that you place a 3x5 card on your mirror to remind you each day. Whatever it takes you won’t be let down with His Word in your mind and heart. Consider this…

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Galatians 2:20

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